DRUG COMPANIES WARN OF 'HARD BREXIT' RISK TO MEDICINES AND DEVICES IN UK - Drug companies have urged European Union governments not to close the door to medicines and medical devices approved in the UK in the event of a hard Brexit. 

There has been significant concern in Britain over access to medicine supplies in the event of a no-deal crash out of Europe at the end of the month, with some reports of families stockpiling drugs. However, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations appears to be more concerned about the flow of medicines the other way - from the UK to Europe, writes the Irish Times. Stefan Oschmann, chief executive of German pharma company Merck and president of the federation, which represents drug research and development companies, says that, despite the best efforts of pharmaceutical companies, there is "very real concern" for medicine supply across Europe as a result of Brexit. He noted that more medicines move from the UK to Europe than the other way round. "The scale of the task should not be underestimated," Dr Oschmann said. "Around one billion packs of medicines cross the UK-EU border each year. That's around 45 million per month from the UK to the EU and 37 million in the other direction," he added.


BANKS FIGHT THOUSANDS OF DISPUTED TRACKER CASES - Thousands of tracker mortgage cases continue to be disputed by banks, despite the scandal dragging on for a decade now. 

An additional 8,700 cases in three different banks are being disputed by the lenders, writes the Irish Independent. If the banks eventually have to concede on these it will take the total number of tracker cases to almost 50,000, and could see the total bill for the banks rise by another €290m. That would mean the total bill will be close to €1.3 billion. Newly-appointed AIB CEO Colin Hunt has been urged to add 6,000 customers to its tracker mortgage redress and compensation scheme. Consumer advocate Brendan Burgess said the AIB customers started on fixed rates but had a contractual right to a tracker at the "prevailing rate" when the fixed-rate period ended. He claims AIB failed to do so. AIB maintains that "the customer grouping in question did not hold a tracker mortgage". The bank has offered customers €1,600 each because it did not offer them a tracker, but insists they did not lose out. But it has not put them to trackers or refunded them for overpaid interest. Mr Burgess has urged the customers to use AIB's independent appeals panel. The deadline was last Friday, but he said appeal applications would still be accepted. Those who do not appeal will lose all legal rights and options and wave goodbye to any chance of getting their tracker back. 

WORRY OVER 'CASHBACK MONEY LURE' - Most would-be-homeowners and existing borrowers have a good knowledge of the costs and types of mortgages, but many are "lured" by cashback offers by banks that may not be the best choice, a survey by a mortgage broker reveals. 

The survey, by Mortgages4Her, found that borrowers are much more "educated" about mortgage products than people were before the financial crash, with most people understanding the types of mortgages and the Central Bank's income rules for qualifying for a home loan. The broker said it was "highly" encouraged by the findings, because the more borrowers knew, "the better your chances of getting the best value and the best product", writes the Irish Examiner. However, it said it was concerned that a slice of its survey of 200 mortgage applicants and mortgage-holders would be influenced in their choice by cashback mortgages. "A significant number of respondents, 35%, said they "fully and completely understood" the various products on the mortgage market. A further 44% stated that they "kind of" understood them, when they "put their mind to it". Furthermore, 81% of those surveyed were confident to varying degrees, in their ability to understand fixed and variable mortgage rates, and what they might mean for them," said general manager, Sinead Buckley. But she added that worryingly, an additional 18% say they would be lured in by a cashback offer. 

ONLINE RETAIL FUELLING RAPID RISE IN SALES OF FAKE GOODS, SAYS OECD - The rise of online platforms for buying and selling goods has fuelled a rapid increase in fake merchandise sold around the world, the value of which has reached $590 billion (£384.4 billion) a year, according to a report. 

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union’s intellectual property office (EUIPO) found illicit goods, from designer handbags to luxury watches, accounted for as much as 3.3% of total international trade in 2016, up from 2.5% ($461 billion) in 2013, says today's Guardian. The surge, identified using the latest available customs seizure data from the EU and several other border forces around the world, came even as global trade volumes fell over the same period, suggesting a rapid escalation in trading of fake goods. Customs officials noted the most frequently seized imported fakes were items of footwear, followed by clothing, leather goods and IT equipment, with postal parcels the most popular way to ship counterfeit and pirated products. Other items seized included counterfeit guitars, jewellery, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, spare parts, luxury watches, food and drink, and medical equipment. The boom in fakes comes as technology makes it easier to buy and sell goods online, with the report highlighting "digital platforms which help connect supply and demand globally" as having a particular impact.